The new ethics rules are also expected to attempt to slow the revolving door between the government and the lobbying world by barring employees who leave the Biden administration from lobbying the administration for the length of Biden’s term in office.
The ban on incoming government officials receiving payments from their former employers is the most significant shift in the new guidelines. Banning employers from making substantial payments to incoming government officials became a topic during the presidential campaign, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren often decrying the practice.
The new rules would limit the influence of officials on the way out of government work, too, by keeping the Obama-era pledge to ban people leaving their jobs from quickly lobbying the government they just left. Biden also plans to implement new rules aimed at curbing contact former officials have with both their old agencies and senior White House staff, as well as former officials registering as foreign agents so they can lobby on behalf of foreign entities.
The plan will also ask government officials to adhere to certain ethical commitments, such as making decisions entirely with the public interest in mind and making choices after their government work that do not create even the appearance of using their service for gain.
“If the plan is as currently being reported, this policy goes further than we have ever seen in a presidential ethics plan,” Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen, said in a statement. “It will crackdown on shadow lobbying jobs, end golden parachutes intended to seat corporate insiders in government, and halt the rapidly spinning revolving door.”
“Boldness is needed in this moment to restore the people’s faith in government and this policy takes a critical step in the right direction,” she added.
Details of Biden’s ethics plan emerged as Senate Democrats, who are poised to soon take the majority in the chamber, announced that their first legislative effort will be a sweeping measure to overhaul government ethics, campaign finance and voting laws.
Gilbert said the twin proposals emerging Tuesday from the incoming Biden administration and Senate Democrats means “it’s a good day for government integrity.”
In the early months of Trump’s tenure, his administration cut off the practice of publicly releasing the logs of visitors to the White House complex, citing national security and privacy concerns.
Norm Eisen, who served as White House ethics czar during the first term of the Obama administration, called Biden’s soon-to-be-released rules “the most ambitious ethics plan we’ve seen from an administration of either party.”
“It’s a very impressive start,” he told CNN. “Now, all of us watchdogs will be monitoring for compliance. But there’s every indication they will stick with it.”